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UPSC told to make prelims scores public

The Delhi High Court has directed the UPSC to make public the cut-off marks obtained by candidates in preliminary test of the civil services examination, reports Harish V Nair.

delhi Updated: Sep 04, 2008 00:19 IST
Harish V Nair

Can’t believe you failed to clear the Civil Services prelims? Wish to know your score? Well, the Delhi High Court has granted your wish. Infusing transparency into the civil service selection process, the court on Wednesday ordered Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to reveal marks obtained by candidates appearing in the preliminary exams and also the scoring methodology.

Until now, UPSC had been publishing only the list of candidates who qualified for the main exams. Approximately 40 lakh students sit for the Civil Service preliminary all over the country every year.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar gave the direction while dismissing an appeal filed by UPSC against an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) asking it to disclose the marks scored by around 100 candidates in the preliminary exam. The unsuccessful candidates had moved CIC in November 2006 under the Right to Information Act.

UPSC had moved the division bench after a single judge bench of the High Court had dismissed its appeal on April 17, 2007. The Commission had argued that details like cut-off marks, individual marks and model answers were “top secret” and their revelation would be a violation of intellectual property. It also expressed fear that IAS coaching centres across the country would also misuse such information.

Rejecting its contention, the court said the answer papers were not of “such a nature that can be characterised as secret or of a type the disclosure of which would not be in public interest.” It said the scoring methodology had already been disclosed by UPSC in the Supreme Court in the form of an affidavit and so was “already in public domain.” The judges said UPSC’s apprehension that disclosure of the scaling methodology would compromise merit was “not well-founded.”

“The whole purpose of having three levels of examination — preliminary, main and then interview — is to ensure that only meritorious candidates are selected for government service,” the judgment said.

Justice B.D. Ahmed had also observed that UPSC being a public body was required to act and conduct itself in a fair and transparent manner. Citing a section of RTI Act, Justice Ahmed had said, “access to information ought to be provided by a public authority even when it is otherwise entitled to withhold the same, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.”